The Math In Perseverance – More Than Just Working Hard

Jul 24, 2015 1 Min Read


I have always related perseverance to “Math”. To me, Math is repeatedly doing equations, until it becomes autopilot: hard work.

Math enthusiasts tell me differently – it’s about the beauty of the equations, that process of coming to the answer and moment of hard-won wonder.

Personally, my moments mostly comprised relief that one problem was solved. Thus, I grew up disliking perseverance for what I assumed was its nature: non-stop work.

I found out later in university that I was wrong. Perseverance, like math, is not just “hard work”. The equation goes as such:

Desire (20%)

You must want something desperately and passionately. You must desire it.

Desiring something that much moves you to calculate the possibilities of achieving your goals and you begin to think of the costs. Do you want it that much?

When I reread my group’s submitted assignment, I realised that we could have performed better. I desired the best grade possible: an A.

Decision (10%)

In evaluating your desires, you enter into the process of prioritisation. If it ranks high, you are then forced to decide whether or not to pursue it, upon which you will then decide how much you would be willing to give. How much will you pay to get what you want?

I decided that it was worth trying for and after some discussion with my teammates, we decided that we would ask for the chance to redo it.

We were willing to give our time and energy for the grade we wanted.

Determination (20%)

In making your decision, you are determined to go through with it. Determination is the “decision”, stemming from passion, in the direction of an end goal. Are you determined enough to carry it to the end?

We made commitments to work for a good grade. All of us were determined to do a good job this time around and were willing to sacrifice time and energy for this second chance.

Hard work (50%)

At the end of the day, perseverance also requires grit: you remembering your desire, paying homage to that moment of decision, determining to carry on and working towards it.

My friends and I, fuelled by our determination to get a good grade, redid the whole process – rewriting, researching and recollecting data.


Many times, it is so easy to forget the other 50% and “Just do it”. Perseverance then becomes reduced to half its meaning.

The end goal follows suit whereby the original reason for pursuit is forgotten. That is when perseverance seems like the hardest thing in the world, when it becomes easier to just give up.

In the end, just like Math, true perseverance is more than just hard work. It is passion and determination culminated in decisions that are made with sweat, blood and tears, again and again.

So, have you done the Math of perseverance? Or are you only doing 50%?

Maybe it’s time to recalculate.

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Sara firmly believes that learning is a two-way process between a student and a teacher, and that everyday heroes are just as important as superheroes.

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